OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe soldier is reunited with his family after nearly a year deployed to the Middle East. His little girls had no idea he was home until he showed up at their school.
Kansas Army National Guard 1st Lt. Dustin Fergen surprised his daughters, who are students at Heatherstone Elementary School, during a school assembly Wednesday.
The assembly started with a presentation about the school's 3 "R's" about being responsible, ready and respectful.
When the school's mascot, Husky, looked around for someone to talk about the three "R's" he revealed Fergen.
His daughters, Joanna and Angelica, ran to hug him.
"I felt excited that he was home, my heart was just pumping," Angelica Fergen said.
It's a moment he'll never forget.
"I was super nervous about how the reaction would go, super excited as well just to finally be home and be back with my kids after 11 months," Dustin Fergen said.
Fergen left for his deployment to the Middle East after Thanksgiving 2020 in support of Operation Spartan Shield, Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Enduring Freedom. He serves as an intelligence officer in the 130th Field Artillery unit out of Manhattan, Kansas.
His wife, Kimberly Fergen, said she's proud of her girls for staying strong while he's been away.
"My girls have been amazing, they have just stood up to all of the challenges that we have faced," Kimberly Fergen said. "It’s been easier than I expected, it’s our first deployment and they were just champs through the whole thing."
The Fergens are grateful to Heatherstone for helping plan such a special moment.
"I knew that this moment was going to be a worth every little white lie I had to say to them to make this happen for them," Kimberly Fergen said.
The family is looking forward to upcoming trips and spending a lot of time together in-person rather than through a screen.
"Nothing compares to actually being home and with them," Dustin Fergen said.